A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my “Zone Read” peeps.
I’m still wondering what exactly happened to 2018. The year has gone by quickly so let’s put a lid on it and peek ahead to what lies ahead.
Without more delay, here’s what caught my eye in this week’s “Zone Read.”
You Never Forget Your First
Kyle Allen’s journey to this coming Sunday has been a unique one. The former Desert Mountain High star with the rocket arm was ranked as the top pro style quarterback in the 2013 class.
He signed with Texas A&M and took over as the starter halfway through his freshman season, splitting snaps with some guy named Kyler Murray. He was benched as a sophomore before transferring to the University of Houston where he played one season before entering the NFL draft last spring following his redshirt junior year.
Allen went undrafted but was signed by the Carolina Panthers and made their practice squad before being released and eventually resigned at the end of October.
QB Kyle Allen is now in at quarterback#KeepPounding
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 23, 2018
He made his NFL regular season debut last weekend completing all four of his pass attempts. Now he’s Carolina’s Week 17 starting quarterback in New Orleans, where one of Allen’s closest childhood friends will be keeping close tabs.
“This has already been written in his journey,” Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk said of Allen to the “Zone Read.” “We knew he’d get an opportunity to play. Now it’s time to show the world.”
The two grew up playing together in Scottsdale before being reunited as teammates at A&M. Allen, a year older than Kirk, helped persuade the former Saguaro High standout to College Station.
Coincidentally, one of Allen’s teammates at Desert Mountain has been making a big rookie impact in the NFL all season.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 25, 2018
Tight end Mark Andrews is averaging over 16 yards per reception for the Baltimore Ravens and recently caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from fellow rookie Lamar Jackson.
Andrews’ success brings a smile to the face of his former DMHS head coach.
“Mark was always a special athlete from the time he stepped on campus as a high school player,” Tony Tabor said to the ‘Zone Read.” “I have been quoted as telling his mother he will be playing on Sundays someday. I am blessed that I got to be a small part of this young man’s success.”
The former University of Oklahoma star has seven receptions for more than 20 yards, including this gem last week in the Ravens upset win over the Chargers in Los Angeles.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 23, 2018
Speaking of former teammates, Andrews’ college quarterback Baker Mayfield will be on the opposite sideline as the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns to end the regular season.
Arguably the hottest player from the 2020 Arizona high school class isn’t even a skill player.
— Tosh Baker (@tdbakes) December 28, 2018
Pinnacle’s massive offensive tackle Tosh Baker has seen his recruiting skyrocket after helping lead the ‘Neers to the 6A State Semi-Finals. PHS scored 41 or more points eight times.
“Offensive tackles are probably the hardest body types to find,” Sports360AZ.com Recruiting Expert Jason Jewell told the “Zone Read.” “So when you have a 6’5-plus frame you will garner interest. He is a big-time prospect. His wingspan and feet make him elite.”
Jewell knows the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder is still a work in progress-particularly his strength but that will come with age.
— Tosh Baker (@tdbakes) November 30, 2018
Baker is also a key contributor on Charlie Wilde’s defending state champion basketball team and has a handful of Division I basketball offers but recently decided he would only play football in college.
Right on the (East)Mark
There is a new school in the southeast Valley with a familiar name tabbed to lead their football program in the coming years.
— County Line Preps (@CountyLinePreps) December 19, 2018
Former longtime Brophy head coach Scooter Molander was recently named to the same position at Eastmark High School in Queen Creek-which will open next July. The freshmen and sophomore will play a junior varsity schedule in 2019 against lower division schools before eventually ramping up the year after-much like neighboring Casteel High did during their football inception.
“Creating tradition will be challenging and exciting at the same time,” Molander said to CountyLinePreps.com who first reported the hiring. “The fun will be the process that we all get to experience – that being the first years of what will become another fantastic high school in Queen Creek, of which we will all be proud.”
Molander not only brings a wealth of coaching knowledge and success, but the perfect pedigree to start a program from the ground up.
The state of Arizona is white-hot with high school quarterbacks.
A handful of the following names put pen to paper, signing their letters of intent to play college football next year, while some 2020 signal-callers have already committed to Power Five programs.
5A total yards:
1. Spencer Brasch (HIGL) – 4136
2. Gunner Cruz (CAST) – 3875
3. Will Plummer (GILB) – 3747
4. Keegan Freid (SM) – 3678
5. Niko Haen (SLOPE) – 3459
6. Jake Farrell (NDP) – 3227
7. Ben Finley (PV) – 2954
8. Trenton Bourguet (MAR) – 2913
9. Kedon Slovis (DM) – 2610
— Gridiron Arizona (@gridironarizona) December 27, 2018
Three of the names above (Brasch, Cruz, Slovis) signed with Pac-12 schools.